Texas Conservative's Blog

Kay Bailey Hutchison comes to East Texas and brings with her bigger government

Posted in TX Governor's Race by Texas Conservative on December 30, 2009

A good friend of mine works for one of the Tyler stations and told me about Senator Hutchison’s press conference today by saying “she’s just really cold and doesn’t have any energy at all.” He wasn’t talking about her policies (can’t really because she doesn’t have any, but I’ll get to that in a minute) but rather her demeanor…he just didn’t think she had it in her, saying “looks like she is just phoning it in.”

On to what she had to say…””When I take the oath of office as governor, the Trans-Texas Corridor will be officially dead, and I can promise you it will not be dead until I am governor of Texas.” Two problems with this…first, the plan is already dead. While I know it’s easier for Kay to criticize rather than actually introduce something new and visionary, it is a lot easier to stop misleading voters into thinking the program is still alive. Second…ee can argue whether or not the TTC was the best plan, but at the end of the day … it was a plan! She has no plan when you look at it in its whole.

But as the Perry campaign pointed out, there were other misleading (lies) comments from the Senator…

Below is a fact check on Sen. Hutchison’s transportation proposals:

Sen. Hutchison wants to “kill the Trans-Texas Corridor.”
FACT: The Transportation Commission has recommended to the Federal Highway Administration to disapprove construction of TTC-35. The project is dead.

Sen. Hutchison offers several proposals to “reform private highway financing,” but most are already in practice or provided under current law:

• Sen. Hutchison says, “No state contracts should reduce the speed limit on public roads”
FACT: They don’t – the Transportation Commission currently has the discretion to set speed limits. No contract provides a decrease in the speed limit for public roads.

• Sen. Hutchison says, “No existing free road should be tolled.”
FACT: This is current law under Transportation Code, Chapter 228.201.

• Sen. Hutchison says, “Existing rights-of-way should be used for necessary capacity expansion”
FACT: This is a current practice of TxDOT.

• Sen. Hutchison says, “Private contractors should not be awarded exclusive concessionary rights along frontage roads”
FACT: This is specifically not allowed under Proposition 11, the constitutional amendment championed by Gov. Perry and approved by voters this November.

• Sen. Hutchison says, “Local communities should have the right to determine whether new roads should be tolled or publicly constructed.”
FACT: This is currently the practice of TxDOT, which has a policy to defer to the local communities in matters of tolling, whether or not to construct, and the setting of toll rates and other business terms.

• Sen. Hutchison says, “The ability to restrict construction or expansion of public roads under a Comprehensive Development Agreement should be reformed, including preservation of the right to assume public ownership and operation of the toll project in the future.”
FACT: This is current law, as the public never relinquishes ownership, Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 223.206

Sen. Hutchison wants to “call for greater consistency in the planning stages by developing commonly understood forecasts for revenues, population growth, and other factors, so that regional planning organizations can rely on uniform assumptions when developing long term plans…”
FACT: These provisions are currently being evaluated by the rule review committee at TxDOT in response to proposals included in the TxDOT Sunset bill from the 81st session.

Sen. Hutchison says Texas should “Require Additional Accountability In Measuring Results”
FACT: Per Senate Bill 1, Riders 19 and 35 from the 81st session, Texans can find and track project progress and completion on TxDOT’s website (www.dot.state.tx.us/project_information/project_tracker…).

Sen. Hutchison wants to “Stop Highway Fund Diversions.”
FACT: Gov. Perry has been a longtime advocate of ending budget diversions. In 2007, he presented a budget that would have ended diversions from Fund 6 (the state highway fund) bringing the total Fund 6 appropriations to $6.5 billion, but the Legislature did not include this provision in its final budget. In 2009, Gov. Perry continued to advocate better truth-in-budgeting and signed a budget for 2010-11 that ends more than $300 million of the diversions from Fund 6, putting these funds back into building and maintaining Texas roads.

Sen. Hutchison says, “Over the last 10 years, our transportation system has languished in neglect”
FACT: Over the last 10 years, Texas has built 5,426 new lane mile of non-tolled highways (92% of total lane miles added) and 472 new tolled lane miles (only 8% of total new miles added), despite the fact that Texas is shortchanged by Washington for road construction and maintenance – Texas receives only 70 cents for every dollar sent to Washington for these projects.

Sen. Hutchison says, “The state should explore ways for traditional hubs such as airports and rail stations to link through intermodal connectors”
FACT: Sen. Hutchison is describing a procedure that already exists. Regional Mobility Authorities (RMA) are statutorily authorized to link multiple modes of transportation such as highways, airports, rail stations, public transit. The RMA model also consolidates responsibility for those modes under a single locally appointed board.

Sen. Hutchison says, “TxDOT should assist in relocating urban freight rail networks to relieve metropolitan roadway congestion and increase safety” and wants to “Renew Emphasis On High-Speed And Commuter Rail.”
FACT: While rail networks are an important part of our state’s transportation infrastructure, Sen. Hutchison offers no way to pay for these projects. Her passenger and freight rail proposals would cost tens of billions of dollars. Revenue from the state’s traditional funding sources – state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees – are constitutionally prohibited from funding rail and raising taxes is not the answer to solving our transportation challenges.

So, as usual, the Senator misleads and borrows…throws them in a blender…and calls them “new plan.” Reading this makes me realize she’s been in Washington D.C. for sixteen years. Everything resembles bigger government and offers nothing new. Well, she does offer toll roads but is against the TTC. Sadly, she has failed to get us the money in return in tax dollars – which would have helped us fix the problem. Sending a dollar to DC and only getting seventy cents in return is not fighting for Texans.

Got an interesting phone call tonight

Posted in TX Governor's Race by Texas Conservative on December 30, 2009

I know I am on several GOP call lists, I’ve got local calls before asking if I was supporting candidate A or candidate B. Tonight, well, it was just a little different.

Someone called the house saying they were calling on behalf of Governor Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign…and the first thing that came to mind is, hmmm isn’t Kay Bailey a Senator? Not that big a deal, just awkward.

What was a bigger deal is they start telling me “did you know that Kay did this…” and “did you know that Kay did that…” One that stood out was leading the fight over keeping Texas from having a state income tax. Being involved, I asked the caller “did you know that all the Republicans fought against it, it’s in the platform?” only to get a long pause and a “I’m sorry, well did you know Kay did….” and at that point I knew this was a fishing expedition rather than a call for support. The person calling didn’t seem to be too much into Kay and didn’t know much about the facts…no sense in saying what else she waas created because all that was really created tonight was a good (well bad) case of heartburn.

I bring this up because my son sent me an email today that a blog he follows Rick vs Kay talking about a new internal poll generated by the Perry campaign showed him up 49-36 which mirrors a Rasmussen poll. Worse is those who responded saying they have only seen KBH’s ads picking the Governor by 6 points and those who have seen both have him up by nearly 20. This after Kay outspent Perry three to one.  I guess that vote against the GOP for the filibuster keeping healthcare on the sideline didn’t work out well for her.

My guess is if both campaigns keep working the way they have done so far, meaning Kay continues to have no message and falters and Governor Perry stays on message and keeps his mistake-free campaign moving, that the Governor will win come March. I am sure KBH will surely go negatative (well nuclear compared to the negative campagin run so far) and that will not go over well…meaning she’s in real trouble.

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Kay Bailey Hutchison: Putting Self Ambition ahead of Texas Republican Party

Posted in TX Governor's Race by Texas Conservative on December 30, 2009

There is something to be said about one’s own desires and dreams. However, there is also something to be said about leadership and putting the movement ahead your own selfish ambition – something Kay Bailey Hutchison evidently doesn’t understand.

With Kay Bailey Hutchison’s decision to move back to Texas (maybe) and run against an incumbent member of her own party (something no Senator has ever done before), she is hurting the Party she says she represents by taking campaign funds from important Texas House races which in turn hurts us when it comes to redistricting…possibly costing  Texas up to four Congressional seats.

Consider the district to my east, Texas House District 11. Democrat Chuck Hopson won in 2008 by 120 votes…or less than one percent of the vote. The good news is we closed the gap from 2006 and now Hopson has switched over to the GOP. Not all will switch, so more work is to be done in increasing our majority in the Texas House.

This is important because redistricting Congressional districts happens in the Texas House, and we’ve got a razor thin margin there and could use more to ensure those new Congressmen are Republican and not Democrats. Before I talk about the problem for districts like the TX 11th, it’s important to remember that we’ve been down this road before and are all thankful for the leadership provided by Governor Perry.

Turn back the clock to 2003 when for the first time in Texas we had a Republican as Governor in Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, AND Speaker of the Texas House Tom Craddick. While Texas was pretty much a reliable state, you wouldn’t have known from our Congressional Delegation which favored the Democrats. Governor Perry, at a heavy price, understood that and made a point in getting the redistricting reflective of the political makeup of the state…and he should be thanked for that.

This is a very important fact to consider for the die-hard activists like myself around the state because we are on the front lines ever election. We understand how much Governor Perry risked to make sure the Congressional district lines were drawn to truly represent the political landscape of Texas. Under his leadership, calling special sessions to get the work done, we now have more Republicans in the Congress to help battle the liberal socialistic takeover of America. And with more and more people moving to Texas, a thousand a day, we’re set to get four more – which means we need a leader to fight for us again.

During this battle, there was one person who was eerily silent during this whole period: Kay Bailey Hutchison. The only person who seems to not know this is her spokesman Joe Pounder who said “”Because Texas was and still is a Republican state, Senator Hutchison supported redistricting efforts earlier this decade. Before the redistricting effort, Republicans were severely underrepresented in Congress and that needed to be corrected.” Of course, like much of the time this year, Kay was AWOL during this event.

The Dallas Morning News cataloged the AWOL KBH during the process on their trailblazers blog:

Did Hutchison believe – in 2003 – that congressional boundaries in Texas should be redrawn before 2011? She didn’t say publicly at the time. Here’s a typical story from the time:

September 6, 2003, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, by Jack Douglas Jr.
“Hutchison for governor?; GOP senator noncommittal about possible race against Perry”

…Hutchison would not say whether she supports the redistricting push. But the senator said, “I do believe it’s very important for us to keep what has always been a Texas tradition” — cooperation between Republicans and Democrats in office.

Sept. 21, 2003, Dallas Morning News
Staying above the fray; Texas Republicans in Congress back remap but hesitate to take part

…Texas’ U.S. senators, both Republicans, have avoided the fray. Analysts say that makes sense. Any support they offer would risk backlash from independents, minorities and conservative Democrats, and any criticism would alienate fellow Republicans.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison faces an extra complication. Because some Republicans want her to challenge Gov. Rick Perry in 2006, when both face re-election, any statement would be parsed for signs she intends to take him on. She declined to discuss the issue.

Now that you know how important redistricting is, and how silent KBH was during the process last time, you have to ask yourself “Why is Kay Bailey Hutchison taking funds away from people who could be backing the Texas House candidates?” That’s a good question.

When we can win districts like the TX 11th, why is she putting self ambition ahead of the Republican Party? The question gives us the answer: self-ambition and no loyalty to the Republican Party. That is demonstrated in her actions of saying she will never help anyone who would oppose the liberal Diane Feinstein and not working with the GOP Senate Leadership and voting against a filibuster that accelerated Government run healthcare.

So, her single-minded desires will take money away from house races and thus risk losing the redistricting battle to Democrats. Her accusations of Perry hurting the party are both inaccurate and ring hollow. Just another reason why this race is important for the future of Texas.

No ice for East Texas area, but who knows in Texas

Posted in Uncategorized by Texas Conservative on December 28, 2009

Another winter storm is brewing out west folks, and we might once again be spared – but friends of mine in the National Weather Service say “be on the lookout, because this could change on a dime.” Keep an eye on their website.

Ronnie Earle’s Baggage brings KBH Indictment back into spotlight

Posted in TX Governor's Race by Texas Conservative on December 28, 2009

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?

It’s the first line of the famous New Years Eve song, Auld Lang Syne, but is it something our distinguished Senior Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison would like to hear? Not really, because it’s not just an acquaintance but a nemesis in former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and his decision to run for Lt. Governor that will surely bring a dark period in her life back into the public eye.

That dark period includes a criminal investigation as a result of the order to purge computer tapes and the deletion of records that led to a grand jury indictment of KBH after abusing her power as State Treasurer.

In 1994, the Houston Press did an investigative piece that included the word of non-partisan career technology professionals with no axe to grind because of politics.

“For more than a year, as Hutchison launched the campaign that would elevate her to the U.S. Senate, Travis County prosecutors conducted a low-level investigation into rumors of abuses by her staff. But given the lack of physical evidence, the probe was going nowhere.

“Then, on June 9, 1993, that suddenly changed. Four days after Hutchison’s victory in the U.S. Senate runoff, Wesley McGehee, racked by guilt, went to the D.A.’s office with his stunning revelation: the newly elected U.S. senator had ordered the destruction of embarrassing state records. Burkett would later produce evidence of this: his tape, which he carted into a Travis County grand-jury room in a pizza box.

“[Kay Bailey Hutchison] pursued the deletion of records even after the treasurer’s office faced criminal investigation for misusing state employees and equipment. This meant that the treasurer of the state of Texas was ordering subordinates to destroy what was likely to become evidence.

Hutchison would be lucky, a Judge quickly turned Ronnie Earle’s plan on its ear by forcing a jury to acquit the future Senator – keeping her from ever being tried again because of the double-jeopardy law. What it didn’t do, is make the evidence go away and was later revealed to the Dallas Observer.

“It is worth noting that grand-jury testimony is unchallenged, taking place behind closed doors, without any cross-examination of the accusers; only the grand jurors, the witnesses and the prosecutors are present.

“That said, it’s clear that the secret Hutchison files paint an extraordinary — and unflattering — portrait of Texas’ junior U.S. senator. They offer striking insights into the nature of the criminal case against her as well as her personality, leadership style and temperament. Hutchison’s acquittal notwithstanding, these remain critical issues for voters assessing her fitness for public office.

“The Hutchison files also make clear that the senator’s claims about the political origins of her prosecution are nonsense.

“Beginning in June 1993, 33 witnesses testified under oath before the grand jury. Most of them were Republicans, and were her own hand-picked aides and associates; 26 worked at the Treasury.

“More important, the Hutchison files reveal how one of Texas’ top elected officials carried on extensive political operations out of the Treasury — ignoring, several staffers testified, repeated complaints that the practice was improper. They also show that, after her office’s political activities were partially revealed, she personally directed a laborious effort to cover up evidence of wrongdoing.

“Collectively, the files describe an obsessive, demanding and paranoid woman who was at times brutal to her staff, berating and pinching aides, and even, in one now-legendary incident, whacking a subordinate on the shoulder with a notebook.

The article goes on to talk about what is widely known to be the case: Kay Bailey Hutchison is a paranoid cold person with a history treating people in a demeaning manor. 

“Hutchison clearly perceived Austin as brimming with political enemies, according to a second deputy treasurer, Michael Barron. She was ‘constantly almost in a state of paranoia,’ Barron testified [to the grand jury.] ‘From day one, she announced to us that [executive assistant in the governor’s office] Paul Williams was out to get her; that [Democratic Comptroller] John Sharp was out to get her; that everybody in the Legislature was out to get her.

 In fact, the Senator is known for having “purse boys” according to former Bush speechwriter Matt Larimer. In his book Speechless, he talks about an episode in which he writes :

“As the elevator proceeded downward, the senator turned to her J. Crew aides. They were ‘the purse boys.’ That was the nickname staffers gave them because their job seemed to consist of carrying Sen. Hutchison’s purse around Capitol Hill. They also were known to drive her from her house to work – a distance of approximately two blocks. They were basically taxpayer-subsidized butlers. This was an unusual day, since normally only one purse boy was with Sen. Hutchison at a time. (The other must have been a trainee). As one of the boys quietly held her large purse, she started to fish through it. Then she issued a list of instructions.

“Now I want you to take my purse back to the office,” she said.

“Yes, senator,” the purse boy responded.

“Take the nail polish out and put it in the refrigerator.”

“Yes, senator.”

“Take the rest of the makeup out and put that in the refrigerator too.”

“Yes, senator.”

“Then put the purse by my desk.” She said this as though it were her routine speech.

The purse boy nodded dutifully, and the trainee looked like he wanted a pen to jot all this down. Elizabeth and I gazed at each other uncomfortably. I felt a little like entering your parents’ bedroom and finding your mother putting on deodorant. It was something you knew happened, but you didn’t really want to think about. Then the elevator doors opened. We moved to the side to let KBH pass. She did so regally, without a word to either of us, the purse boys following close behind. In those few minutes, my enthusiasm for KBH sunk to a previously unfathomable low.

In the Houston Press article, her demanding management style (and that is putting it lightly) came to light as well:

“Four Hutchison aides — Ammann, Snead, Babin and Berry — testified that they told their boss she was making them perform too many personal and political tasks on state time. Snead testified that she and Stephanie Nooner complained to Hutchison so frequently, and the treasurer reacted so poorly, that they began flipping a coin to decide who would take on the task of raising the issue yet again.

“Snead said she urged Hutchison to install a separate phone line for her personal and political calls — a change that Hutchison ultimately approved. The treasurer refused, however, to open a campaign office in Austin, as many of her fellow statewide officeholders have done. (She instead instructed staffers, the women testified, to use the Austin office of her husband’s law firm for time-consuming tasks.) Nor would Hutchison follow their suggestion to use campaign funds to hire a traveling aide, another common practice among politicians trying to avoid blurring the lines between state and political obligations.

“I don’t like to say that she just didn’t care, but she didn’t — I mean she expected us to do what she told us to do,” Snead testified. “And she just didn’t want to hear when we would tell her, you know, ‘We just don’t feel comfortable doing this.’ She would say, you know, ‘Do it. That’s nonsense. Just do it.’

“Shortly after Hutchison appointed [her] her top deputies, she gave the pair an article written by the governor’s chief of staff in another state; she told them the article’s thinking reflected ‘her philosophy in total,’ [according to grand jury testimony.] “The article said that the staff of an elected official needed to remember that they were not elected by anyone; that the elected official was the elected person and the staff was only there to serve the elected official.

The Houston Press article gives case after case demonstrating how she treats her staff, which can only be classified as demeaning.

As Ronnie Earle campaigns for the job as Lt. Governor, surely he will be asked about the indictment. Surely, it will be news, considering if both politicians get what they want – elected – they will have to work together. Certainly makes for an interesting next few months in Texas.

KBH and helping the Democrats with Healthcare

Posted in TX Governor's Race by Texas Conservative on December 23, 2009

Should Healthcare pass the Senate on Christmas Eve, do Texans have a reason to ask Senator Hutchison “WHY?” There has been much discussion about the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that our Senior Senator joined Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins voted to end discussion on…a bill in itself that didn’t give us health care reform…just expedited it. There was a clear strategy by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to stall in hopes the Christmas Break would give Americans another opportunity to voice it’s opinion. With her vote to end debate on Friday night, it kept that strategy from working. Whether or not you believe her explanations (supporting the troops or the 60 votes were there), you have to wonder why she even came close to this. It’s like a punt in football, stay away from the ball as to avoid a fumble. Clearly, Senator Hutchison fumbled and it brought out angry demonstrations across the state. Something her campaign could ill afford.